31st January 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Austin, Texas – Alan Lomax, “one of the great American field collectors of folk music  of the 20th century… also a folklorist,  ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activitist, oral historian and film-maker” [Wikipedia].



Eastern Front: At Bolimow, the German ninth army launches 18,000 gas laden artillery shells against Russian troops, but sub-zero temperatures neutralise the gas which is dispersed without harm. The Russians, unaware, do not report the gas attack to thier allies. [Burg & Purcell].


Middle East: Forces of the Idrisid Emir of Asir (now south west Saudi Arabia) occupy the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea.



Leisure: and love: New Zealand farmer and diarist George Adkin enjoys a summer’s afternoon of photography, and the company of his beloved fiance, Maud, “my sweet softie”.



24th January 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: – in Aberdeen, Washington State, USA – Robert (“Burns”) Motherwell the third, abstract expressionist.


A centenary exhibition is taking place at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, (Duke St, St James), London until late March 2015.



In the Middle East:    DIED TODAY: – Aged 36, at Al Majma’ah, in the Province of Ar-Riyadh, in (what is now) Saudi Arabia – Captain William Henry Irvine Shakespear, British civil servant, explorer born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1878. At the Battle of Jarrab, between  the forces of Ibn Saud, the future King of Saudi Arabia, and Ibn Rashid, head of the Al-Rasheed dynasty, Shakespear (who has been acting as military adviser to Ibn Saud) is shot and killed by one of Ibn Rashid’s men.



In the North Sea: nearly 1000 german sailors perish at the Battle of Dogger Bank.




15th May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: In Auckland, New Zealand – Charles Reilly, volunteer for air crew duties in 1939 who trained at Weraroa in 1940 before sailing for the UK the same year. After training in Uxbridge and other locations in the UK, he was transferred to Palestine. Eight days after his arrival he took off for a night flight to Crete. Radio contact was lost in the early hours of 28th October1942, and he (aged 29) and the crew were officially presumed lost at that date…

Accidents: In Glendevon, Scotland, shale miner Charles McQueen is killed from an underground fall of shale.

World Affairs: Major Herbert Garland, a British scientist, soldier and explosives expert, is elected a Fellow of the (British) Chemical Society. At the outbreak of war he will join the “Arab Bureau” and operate alongside T.E Lawrence supporting bedouin insurgency against the Turks in Western Arabia. Lawrence once commented: “Garland is much more use than I could be… he is an expert on explosives and machinery. He digs their trenches, teaches them musketry, machine gun work, signalling, gets on with them exceedingly well and always makes the best of things and they all like him too”. [Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2010].


9th May 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, in Britain and Australia respectively – Vice Admiral Sir John Osler Chattock Hayes, Royal Navy Officer and later Naval Secretary (1962) and Admiral Sir Victor Alfred Trumper Smith, officer with the Royal Australian Navy and later Chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee (1970). These distinguished gentlemen died within two months of each other in the summer of 1998, aged 85.

Empire: In Arabia, a guerrilla army led by Ibn Saud (the King of Najd) captures the town of Al-Ahsa from the Ottoman Turks, expanding the territory of what will later become Saudi Arabia. The Ottoman Fort is now preserved as a local tourist attraction.


13th February 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (Khalid, “son of Abdulaziz the Saud”). Future King of Saudi Arabia (1975-1982). Commemorated in various ways after his death, including through a wonderful international airport just north of Riyadh.

World Affairs: After invasion by Chinese Manchu forces, the Tibetans drive out the invaders and declare their independence.

In Mexico City, the battle between government and opposition forces continues throughout the fifth of the “Ten Tragic Days” of the Mexican Revolution.

Society and Culture: Mary Harris Jones, 83 year old labor activist, is arrested in Charleston, West Virginia during the mine confrontations and later sentenced under military law to three years in prison.

Shipping News: Off the coast of Norfolk (UK) the steamships “London” and “Edingurgh” collide, with the loss of the Edinburgh and her four crewmen. Meanwhile, off the North Oregon coast, the barque “Mimi” runs aground in fog on the Nehalem Spit and capsizes in the salvage operation with 17 deaths.

6th February 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY, in Newark, New Jersey – Robert Seedlock, who led construction of the Burma Road in WW2, and later – in civilian life – supervised the building of Jeddah International Airport in Saudi Arabia.

Transportation: At the Trevose Head lighthouse on the North Cornish coast (UK) a new fog signal enters service for the first time. The experimental form of a huge rectangular trumpet 36 feet wide, with an aperture 18 feet high, is designed to provide a wide horizontal spread of sound. It stays in service for fifty years.

Society and culture: At a committee meeting of the St Andrew’s Golf Club in Scotland, a Mr Dixon complains about the caretaker’s conduct and the cleanliness of the club. Another member points out that the state of the windows “gives one the idea the place is uninhabited” . The secretary is asked to advertise for a caretaker “married (with no encumbrances preferred)” at a salary of £40 per annum, together with a free house, coal and gas. The proposed treatment of the outgoing (?) caretaker is not minuted.

In Shahpur, Ahmedabad, India, Sir Chinubhai Madhowlal Ranchhodlal,  son of the the cotton baron Madhavlal Rachhodlal, becomes the first Runchoreal Baronet and the first Hindu Baronet of the United Kingdom.